The 5 Best Songs Of The Week
Every week the Stereogum staff chooses the five best new songs of the week. The eligibility period begins and ends Thursdays right before midnight. You can hear this week’s picks below and on Stereogum’s Favorite New Music Spotify playlist, which is updated weekly. (An expanded playlist of our new music picks is available to members on Spotify and Apple Music, updated throughout the week.)
Explosions In The Sky - "Ten Billion People"
Longtime post-rockers Explosions In The Sky have been building and expanding sonic universes — and blasting open minds — for almost a quarter-century. There’s so much that’s outstanding about them, but for me, their most special quality is how they can speed up, slow down, add layers, strip down, and communicate with audiences without words. It doesn’t matter the pace or tone — you know an Explosions song when you hear it. Their latest effort, the hurried, rippling “Ten Billion People,” uses the same grandiose snare shudder as heard in 2003’s epic “Your Hand In Mine,” but it’s tighter, more brisk. As “Ten Billion People” builds with bubbling guitar and bittersweet, minor-chord keys, it’s easy to picture the song’s titular mass of faces and what they might be feeling at any given time. —Rachel
Boot Camp Clik - "Wotcha Call Strength"
The grimy Brooklyn rap supergroup Boot Camp Clik was founded 30 years ago and has been mostly inactive for the past 15, and their new single is a reminder of how hard old-man rap can go. Over a percolating Arcitype beat straight out of the late ’90s — a little bit “Can I Get A,” a little bit “Ruff Ryders Anthem” — a parade of emcees sounds off with chest-thumping boasts and casually scathing dismissals. It’s the kind of posse cut you don’t often hear anymore, where every artist is gunning to out-rap the last and an exaggerated toughness tips over into joy at the art of hip-hop. —Chris
Strange Ranger - "Wide Awake"
On its face, Strange Ranger’s bleary-eyed “Wide Awake” could be likened to classic — or current! — Slowdive, or sub any number of ’80s synth and drum machine enthusiasts from the 2010s (Wild Nothing, Small Black, the Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart). But Strange Ranger add a lot of fresh elements to a familiar equation. Rather than settle into a warm shoegaze sound bath, Strange Ranger turn up and sharpen the drums into an undulating ’90s R&B groove. Their hazy, ethereal vocals move in and out of focus and are punctuated by unexpected noodling guitar solos. The end result is an irresistible piece of indie pop-rock that brings Strange Ranger into sharper view against a sea of industry hopefuls. —Rachel
Angel Du$t - "Space Jam"
Before Angel Du$t even started, frontman Justice Tripp had etched himself into hardcore history as the leader of the Baltimore bruisers Trapped Under Ice. For years, Tripp has used Angel Du$t to explore different avenues. Angel Du$t made plenty of hardcore banger, too, especially early on, but then they matured into a pop-rock polyglot. The giddy pummel “Space Jam” resurrects the band’s loud-fast side, with all the band’s free-wandering melodic sensibilities still intact. It’s a 99-second sprint with room for funky sound effects, ecstatic guitar shredding, and defiantly silly lyrics, and it should still cause absolute mayhem in a live-show context. Justice for all. —Tom
Big Thief - "Vampire Empire"
It’s a trajectory not many bands have the clout or the wherewithal to pull off nowadays: A song starts out as a sensational live staple, gets introduced to the wider world via a late-night TV performance, and comes out months later as a standalone single — and still sounds just as exciting and vital, if not more so, than when it was just an unexpected surprise in a set list. But that’s Big Thief in 2023 for you, a band that I used to be lukewarm on but have fully bought into as their music has gotten less fussy, more messy and unselfconscious.
“Vampire Empire” is an ambling, swirling vortex of a song: three dense verses surrounded by three commanding choruses. Adrianne Lenker hits every word with a wail, a yelp, a growl: “You give me chills/ I’ve had it with the drills/ I am nothing, you are nothing, we are nothing with the pills.” The instrumentation mostly just lets her cook, swelling when it’s supposed to but otherwise keeping out of the way as she sings of a love that might leave her dried-out and hollow. It’s a prime example of the shaggier, emotionally resonant vein that Big Thief have been operating in over these past couple years. —James